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Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says it’s time for the Government to front up to the people of Canterbury about the governance crisis at the District Health Board.

The DHB is facing an unprecedented crisis after the resignation of 7 of the 11-strong executive management team, including the Chief Executive David Meates.

The string of resignations is the result of an adversarial approach by the new Board and Crown Monitor Lester Levy over the DHB’s deficit and a savings plan which is expected to include cost-cutting of services and staff.

ASMS understands that the draft annual plan includes proposals that would cut approximately $13 million dollars in nursing staffing, and more than $2 million dollars in unspecified “job sizing” which is a term used to manage the number of senior doctors employed at the DHB. Another $3.5 million in savings would be achieved by reducing jobs for newly qualified nurses – with only a third of the usual number of nursing graduates being offered jobs at CDHB in 2021.

“This flies in the face of recent statements by the Crown Monitor and Board Chair,” says ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton. “We also understand the Ministry of Health has signed off on it. We find it astonishing that this attack on safe staffing would be sought by any Board in this Covid environment”.

She says in less than a year the new Canterbury Board and Monitor has caused a well-run DHB, modelling innovation and good relationships between clinical staff and management, to implode.  There are also deep divisions within the Board between the elected and appointed members.

“DHB staff and the public deserve some answers. We have yet to hear anything from the Government, the Ministry of Health or any of the Government MPs in Canterbury.  They need to show us that they are listening to concerns and are willing to take action”.

ASMS members firmly believe the Board and the Crown Monitor are not acting in the interests of staff or patients in Canterbury and their decision-making is not transparent.

“The focus needs to be on proper provision of services and safe care for patients. The Government needs to intervene and show the people of Canterbury that their health matters,” Sarah Dalton says.